In response to “LUCC v. Pro-Life”

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Luther Abel’s “LUCC v. Pro-Life” article (The Lawrentian, 15 October 2021) expresses disagreement with LUCC’s decision to deny the Pro-Life group the official status of a campus organization. Abel defends his position by stating that babies are positive both on an individual and global scale, and that the group deserves the right to organize and receive funding. I am writing to comment on Abel’s claims and disagree with his argument.

The first four paragraphs of Abel’s article support the claim that bringing babies into the world is favorable for both parents and humanity. He backs this up by stating that population control is no longer necessary because “with technology assisted production far surpassing population growth, we now face rampant obesity among the poor in the United States, not mass starvation.”

As his article centers around the topic of a pro-life group, I would like to point out that concern about overpopulation is not a reason individuals seek abortion, and that abortion as a method of population control is not an argument the pro-choice movement makes. Electing to terminate a pregnancy is a decision made for individual reasons, and thus I contend that his first claim is almost completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. Additionally, Abel falsely attributes “rampant obesity” in the United States as evidence for a lack of “mass starvation” and fails to recognize the food insecurity that millions of Americans face. This oversight is telling of Abel’s misunderstanding towards the systemic issue of food and nutrition deficits. Recognizing societal problems like this, and how they affect individuals, is essential to grasping why the right to an abortion can be necessary for survival.

Abel then proceeds to ridicule Lawrence University’s Community Council, labelling them as “pestilential,” “infantile” “scolds” who badger their classmates and do “whatever it is that they do.” Abel’s strikingly insolent commentary of the council is, once again, revealing of a lack of awareness towards one of the subjects he is speaking about. It seems that his mockery of LUCC has distracted him from the fact that the council has a fixed process and set of rules for a group to become an official student organization, which the pro-life assembly failed to meet. Beyond the fact that they do not meet the requirements of having a sustainable purpose and evidence of progress, they are also discriminatory against those with uteruses – presumably around half of Lawrence’s student body.

As for Abel’s defense of pro-life ideology, he makes the hasty generalization that the pro-life stance is “fundamentally optimistic and woman-affirming stance” because this means that “women can have children and be successful” and that “the relationship between child-rearing and success should be a win for everyone.” To take away the rights of a carrier to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is the opposite of what I would consider to be “affirming.”

The argument Abel makes is a fundamentally ignorant and oppressive to those who have the ability to carry a child. Not all people can rear an unexpected child and be successful. To assume that this is true is wildly ignorant. Likewise, choosing to abort a pregnancy is evidence of individual autonomy and rights. I see nothing more empowering and affirming than this.

The extent to which Abel lacks awareness of the impossibility for some individuals to rear an unexpected child is noticeable in the way he fails to address how abortion inaccessibility would affect the very audience he is writing to. The students reading this are mostly working towards four year degrees. Should someone at Lawrence become unintentionally pregnant and forced to rear a child, it would not be possible for them to do so and complete their degree without significant help (which many do not have the privilege of obtaining) or extraordinarily unhealthy sacrifices to their wellbeing.

In the fight for a $15 minimum wage on campus, Lawrence students have voiced the near impossibility of surviving as college students as is. To add finding and paying for off-campus housing, childcare, medical care, baby supplies and all of the other expenses that even many well-established American families can barely afford would crush the ability for one to finish college. Not to mention how inconceivably difficult it would be to balance all of these things with the proper care and attention a young child needs. Nobody in this scenario would be “optimistic” to have such a burden placed unexpectedly on them. This is not a “win” for anyone. To assume that this is the case for everyone is incredibly unmindful of the vast array of circumstances that can make having an unexpected child a tragedy.

Abel concludes his piece with his statement that “whether you agree with pro-lifers should be inconsequential at this juncture; I think that they deserve the ability to organize and receive funding.” I argue that, because LUCC-approved clubs receive funding that is provided by our own tuition payments, it is essential that LUCC spending is beneficial to the experience and wellbeing of the overall student body.

What might a Pro-Life coalition spend such money on? Well, in the short time they have unofficially gathered, they have given us some hints. Among other things, the group has already taken it upon themselves to stand off-campus with anti-abortion signs.

It is widely known that with a Planned Parenthood comes a sidewalk lined with anti-abortion protestors heckling anyone who dares to attempt to seek healthcare. Appleton is no exception to this. A simple walk to the doctor becomes the harrowing experience of evading harassing strangers who seem to think they are so brilliant that they know what is best for anyone and everyone.

Carrying comparable signs, and standing in public places, were the students involved in the Pro-Life group on campus just a couple of weeks ago.

Planned Parenthood is a place many of us will visit at some point in our time here. It has some of the most comprehensive and affordable healthcare in the country. Statistically, it is not unlikely that a current student would seek to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at this health center. This place is a valuable and accessible medical resource for students.

What I did not pay for when I submitted my tuition payment this term is for my own peers to ogle at and badger me on my way to receive healthcare that is none of their business. I did not pay for field trips for them to get to and from the Planned Parenthoods they might decide to loiter outside of. I did not pay for the printing of the “pray to end abortion” signs used to guilt innocent people. And I certainly did not pay for them to promote the removal of healthcare from myself and my peers.

Nothing that this funding would go towards is beneficial to the wellbeing and experience of the student body. In fact, funding this organization would pose a risk to both of these things.

Luther Abel’s article lacks comprehensive reasoning and shows evidence of a clear disregard for the systemic issues which make abortion necessary. I disagree with it wholeheartedly and stand with LUCC’s decision to deny the pro-life group at Lawrence official recognition and funding.